This Finnish designed ring is stylish, tracks your mood, and is available for sale on a recently launched Indiegogo campaign
As anyone who has ever found themselves gripped by unreasonable fear, anger or desire knows, reason is the slave of the passions, as the philosopher David Hume once said. That’s why it’s inevitable that the wearable self-tracking movement would veer into tracking our emotions, which frankly to most people is ten times more fascinating than merely tracking one’s heart rate, calories burned and other physical indicators.
The Moodmetric Ring is a Finnish invention featured in an Indiegogo campaign on Tuesday. At first glance, you may think it’s a hippy-dippy revisiting of the 1970s mood ring, which changed color based on the temperature of your skin. But Moodmetric’s ring has real science behind it.
Specifically, the ring measures small conductivity changes in skin resulting from autonomous nervous system reactions. It measures whether you are calm or agitated, bored or excited, and sends this information to a smartphone so you can track your moods over days or weeks.
Although there are other wearable devices that claim to measure galvanic skin response, like Microsoft’s Band, Niina Venho, a spokeswoman for Moodmetric, says that this is the first time the technology exists as a ring. Basically, she says, it is the same technology as that is used in a polygraph machine, but miniaturized.
“We verified it at the University of Tampere [in Finland],” says Vanho. “The ring is as accurate as the machine.”
Tracking your moods
At the end of the day, a wearer of the ring can check their smartphone and see where their mood was throughout the day. Were their anxiety levels sky-high at 1:00? Oh yeah, that’s when they had a meeting with a potential investor. There are five color-coded levels: calm, serene, active, worked up and running high (a euphemism for extremely stressed or excited).
The ring, which took four years for inventor Henry Rimminen to develop, has been tested by about 80 users over the last two years. In that time, there have been some surprises.
“A friend of mine had the ring,” relates Vanho, “and she gave it to her husband for a few days. At one point he had the highest numbers possible, he was extremely stressed.”
It turns out his wife had tasked him with finding a birthday present for a female relative.
“When the wife saw the high numbers, she relieved him from the hunt for a present because it was clearly too much for him.”
Vanho said that she herself was surprised by what stressed her out the most.
“Even if I feel time pressure my numbers don’t get to the red zone, but when my children are yelling it has a much bigger stress effect on me.”
This caused her to try to modify her behavior.
“Now I know I have to breathe in breathe out, maybe go out for a minute.”
Possible future uses
Moodmetric has developed two rings, a plastic one for $200 that can be used by researchers who want to study subjects’ stress reactions as they go about their day, and another for $269 that is also a stylish piece of jewelry and is meant for use by individuals. In the campaign, there are early bird specials of $199 for a ring with limited cover material options and $269 for a ring with extended style choices.
The use cases are endless. Think about it. A person who finds out that their job is putting them in the red zone all the time might want to make some changes. A person whose numbers are high whenever he sees his fiancé might want to rethink the relationship. Alternatively, a person whose mood is constantly in the beige to light green zone, “maybe doesn’t have enough happening in their life,” says Vanho.
This type of feedback is especially important because human beings are very good at tricking themselves into thinking we feel one thing when we actually feel another.
Of course, it would be foolish to make life changes based on the Moodmetric Ring alone.
“You could also keep a diary and put all the pieces together with the help of a physician or coach,” advises Vanho.
Another possibility is for both market researchers and university researchers to use the ring. For instance, if you studied a large group of people, you could look for patterns in their moods. Are most people made extremely agitated by driving? What is the most successful intervention for insomnia? How calming is a walk by the sea versus an hour of yoga?
The Moodmetric app does not send information to the cloud and your mood data does not leave your cell phone, says Vanho. In the future, users may have an option to let Moodmetric anonymously use their data for research purposes.
Vanho says the biggest technological challenge in producing the ring was to miniaturize both the technology and the battery. The ring comes in five sizes and was designed by silversmith Vesa Nilsson. The company also provides its SDK to developers to develop their own apps on top of the technology.